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Unconventionally Yours

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Christmas Boyfriend Available

Lied to your parents about finding a man? Can’t face another Christmas as the only single kid? Need moral support from a fellow liberal college student in order to survive two weeks with your conservative family? Look no further, because I’m your man.

For the low low price of free, I will spend Christmas break at your family's house with you and pretend to be your boyfriend. You decide the other terms and levels of PDA. I’ll accept the first request I get from anyone ages 18-25. The only payment I require is whatever food and housing I get as part of the job.

My name is Allen and I am a 19 year old male college student attending Noah University. I’m doing this because I don’t have a family of my own to go home to and my school doesn’t let anyone stay in the dorms over break. My finals end December 19th and my second term starts January 17th, so I’ll be available for the month in between.

Serious responses only. Please email walkerfoodboy@qmail.com and tell me about who you are if interested.

 

Chapter Text

     Allen couldn’t believe his good luck. He knew as well as anyone else that offering a fake boyfriend service on craigslist was a bad idea. He had expected replies from old men obviously well past his set age limit. He had expected creeps who looked like their breath smelled of expired liverwurst. He had expected perverts who hoped that his openness to potential pdas included screwing. (It did not). He had expected people that were niceish maybe, but so socially awkward that they had been forced to craigslist as their only option. He had expected the types of people that you could look at and see the desperation rolling off of in waves.
     That’s not what happened, though.
     Allen had been ready to deal with crazies; he had the mental preparations for them ready to go. He had not, however, prepared for a charming fairy princess. So of course, with the universe being what it is, it’s easy rather to guess what type of person emailed him two days after the ad was posted.


 

     Her first messages had been normal enough. In fact, considering the standard for craigslist, they were almost abnormal in their total normality. It’s amazing to consider looking back, the chaos that can come from a single “hi.”

To: walkerfoodboy@qmail.com
From: mysterleegrl@qmail.com
Subject: craigslist boyfriend

     Hi Allen, I’m messaging to ask about that craigslist ad you put up? The fake boyfriend one I mean. I think I might be interested, as I kind of desperately need a date to take home for christmas and I’ve had 0 luck finding 1 out in the real world.
     I’m Lenalee. I’m 20 and I go to University in the same town as you. (Forgive me for not saying which school—a girl’s gotta be careful online.) I guess message me here if the offer still stands.
     (Ps, I’m sorry if this was super awkward. I’ve never done this sort of thing before and I’m not really sure how it all works.)

     Equal parts surprised and relieved to be dealing with someone normal sounding, Allen wasted no time in responding… then responding again as soon as she answered. Even when only through business emails, Lenalee proved quickly to be pleasant to talk to.

To: mysterleegrl@qmail.com
From: walkerfoodboy@qmail.com
Subject: Re:craigslist boyfriend

     Hey Lenalee, thanks for messaging . The offer is definitely still open if you’re interested. I can finalize the deal and start talking time/methods as soon as you want, but I think we should do that exchanging pictures thing first, just to make sure neither of us is a middle aged pervert.

To: walkerfoodboy@qmail.com
From: mysterleegrl@qmail.com
Subject: Re:Re:craigslist boyfriend

     The rest sounds good, but… exchanging pictures thing?

To: mysterleegrl@qmail.com
From: walkerfoodboy@qmail.com
Subject: Re:Re:Re:craigslist boyfriend

     It’s a thing people do to confirm identities when they’re talking to strangers online. It’s sort of… you tell me to take a picture doing some specific thing that I wouldn’t be able to google image search a picture of, then i send it and you know I’m not a fifty year old man trying to kidnap you or your mother trying to monitor your craigslist dating habits. Then we do the reverse.

To: walkerfoodboy@qmail.com
From: mysterleegrl@qmail.com
Subject: Re:Re:Re:Re:craigslist boyfriend

     Oh alright. In that case, how about a picture of you with a fork tucked behind your ear like a pencil. If that’s unique enough… :)?

     Lenalee’s request was most certainly unique enough. After another moment of lazy stretching on his bed, Allen got up and rummaged around until he found an old plastic fork. Once that was done, he then proceeded to spend about ten minutes trying and failing at taking an attractive selfie. The art of self photography had never been an area of skill for him, and the fork in his ear was doing the opposite of helping.
     In the end, he decided on a picture that featured him smiling straight into the camera, his head tilted on a diagonal. It wasn’t the best, but his hair was falling over the top of his scar, which he figured was probably a good thing. He sent the picture as an attachment to his next message, praying that Lenalee wouldn’t be put off by his scar or his white hair.

To: mysterleegrl@qmail.com
From: walkerfoodboy@qmail.com
Subject: Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:craigslist boyfriend

     You’re lucky that I happened t o have a plastic fork lying around in my dorm. Now, how about a picture of you making a capital R out of your fingers?

     It was half an hour before Lenalee responded, by far the longest interval of the night. Allen was afraid his appearance had put her off.

To: walkerfoodboy@qmail.com
From: mysterleegrl@qmail.com
Subject: Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:craigslist boyfriend

     I’d recommend picking something that doesn’t require 2 hands next time. I had to explain what I was doing to my ro ommate so that she would take this for me. What do you want to do next?

     Allen clicked on the attachment, and his eyes widened. Contained within it was a picture of what may have been the prettiest woman Allen had ever seen. She was smiling toward whoever was holding the camera, her fingers twisted into an awkward shape that was barely recognizable as the letter R. Her eyes glittered, her skin was perfect, and her dark hair fell to her shoulders in just the right way.
     Allen stared for a full minute before he could react.
     “Oh my God,” he whispered, “I’m unworthy.”  
     He stopped then, raising an eyebrow to himself. He couldn’t think of any reason that someone who seemed so great would have to turn to finding fake boyfriends on craigslist. The only explanation seemed to be that she had a reputation as some sort of stalker or murderer, but Allen didn’t want to consider that possibility. He had to find out more.

To: mysterleegrl@qmail.com
From: walkerfoodboy@qmail.com
Subject: Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:craigslist boyfriend

     Sorry about the hand thing. I didn’t really think that through.
     You said you were in town, so do you want to meet up irl somewhere? It’ll be easier to talk out the details in person, plus we’ll be able to see if we can get along well enough to convince your family we’re in love.

To: walkerfoodboy@qmail.com
From: mysterleegrl@qmail.com
Subject: Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:craigslist boyfriend

     That sounds like a good idea. When’s a good time for you to meet?

     Allen smiled, relieved that Lenalee was open to his plan. They emailed back and forth a few more times, eventually deciding to have lunch at a busy café in the city the day after next.


 

     In bed that night, Allen marveled once again at his luck. There he had been, ready to reject crazy after crazy and spend another Christmas with his roommate, but now he was meeting with someone that would be out of his league in any other circumstances.
     He drifted off to sleep slowly, thoughts of Lenalee drifting through his mind. He couldn’t wait to meet her.

Chapter Text

Allen had a problem, a problem that lived in his closet.
     Somehow, despite owning more clothes than could even fit in his closet properly, he still had nothing to wear. He had countless outfits available, of course, but nothing that seemed appropriate to meet Lenalee in. He had nice clothes, but they were too stuffy. He had casual clothes, but they made him look slobbish. He had had stylish clothes, but they made him look like he was trying too hard.
     Thanks to this predicament, Allen’s roommate had the wonderful experience of opening the door to the sight of a frantic, underwear-clad Allen standing calf deep in a pile of laundry.
     There was a long moment of awkward eye contact before either of them said anything.

     “Allen…”
     “Yes Tyki?”
     “Didn’t you tell me you’d be gone for your weird fake date thing by, like, ten minutes ago?”
     Allen’s eyes widened as he slowly turned his eyes toward the clock. It was 3:25; he was supposed to meet Lenalee at 3:30; it took at least twenty minutes to walk to the café where he was meeting Lenalee. He turned to look back at Tyki, a look of horror on his face.
     “Fuck.”
     “Hey Allen, do you have anything else to do to get ready after you're dressed?” Something about his tone and expression felt unsettling.
     “No...?”
     “Good.” Tyki tossed Allen his wallet and phone from the desk, then he grabbed a random mix of clothes from the pile, shoved them into Allen’s arms, and shoved Allen out into the hall of the dorms.
     “Tyki… Tyki what are you doing?”
     “I was promised an afternoon to myself,” he replied. “I am not dealing with your bullshit today. Be ready to clean this mess when you get back from your whatever.” Then, with no further fuss, Tyki slammed the door, leaving Allen stranded half naked in the hallway.
     He stood there for a minute, stunned into stillness until the realization that he was late finally caught up to him. Once it had, he wasted no time in leaping into his jeans and sprinting toward the exit, still wriggling into the rest of his clothes as he ran.
     The rational part of Allen’s mind knew that turning up late shouldn’t be a big deal. After all, it’s not like he was meeting a real date. In fact, he didn’t even know the girl! Still though, he liked to be polite, and something gave him the impression that making Lenalee think she had been stood up was just not a good idea.


 

     Ten minutes later, Allen collapsed into a chair outside of the Sweettea Café, panting and red in the face. He could see someone that looked like Lenalee standing inside, but he needed to take a moment he catch his breath before going to meet her. Real date or not, he didn’t think that showing up as a half-dead mess would make for an ideal first impression.
     Allen wasn’t in bad shape, far from it actually, but his frantic run across town had left him practically unable to move. The force of sheer panic had kept him going long enough to get where he was going, but with the panic gone, the regret was setting in. His legs felt like gelatin and his lungs seemed to have been reduced to the air capacity of a leaky balloon. He had intended to go in after just a few moments of sitting, but his body was no longer cooperative with that plan. So, instead of going in to meet Lenalee, he sat there until she noticed him through the window and came to find him outside.
     Once she did, Lenalee was puzzled to find Allen slouched over a metal picnic table, red-faced and chest heaving. He didn’t even seem to notice her standing there.
     “Hey, um, are you Allen?”
     “Huh?” Allen lifted his head up to see Lenalee’s face above him. Their eyes met for a brief moment, and then Allen shot bolt upright like someone had grabbed his marionette strings. “OhmygodI’msosorry.”
     “Wait hold on, now I’m confused.”
     “You’re Lenalee, right?”
     “Yeah…?”
     “I’m Allen, the one from craigslist, and I am both very stupid and very late and I feel terrible about it.”
     “You can chill dude. You’re, like, barely ten minutes late. It’s not that big of a deal.”
     “I guess so. I just-“
     “Nope. You’ve already kept me waiting this long, so there is no way I’m letting you waste more of my time by arguing over this.”
     The cutting directness of Lenalee’s interruption hurt Allen a little, and against his will, this feeling made itself clear on his face. It seemed that his facial muscles were not among the ones that he had regained full control over. He sat in awkward silence, unsure of what to do. He never got the chance to think of a response; Lenalee beat him to the punch, her expression shifting into a soft smile as she spoke.
     “Don’t worry. I’m joking with you. Well I mean, I’m not joking about your being late being not a big deal, but you get what I mean.” She paused for a moment before adding, “Now let’s go inside already. You’ve got to be cold”
     Allen was about to tell her not to worry, that he was fine, when a gust of rushing December wind clawed its way through him. Suddenly, he was very cold. Being forced outside during December in England is never fun, and it’s even less so when you’re underdressed and not entirely sure what clothes you’re even wearing.
     Leaving the dorms in clothes chosen by an uncaring Tyki had not been a good idea. He could have worn anything, but thanks to his uncertainty, he now found himself stuck in an old moth eaten sweater, a pair of Tyki’s too-long too-tight black skinny jeans, socks that were two different lengths, and the worst pair of shoes he owned.
     “God. Fucking.Dammit.Tyki.” Allen’s voice was filled with quiet fury as he cursed under his breath.
     He hadn’t been sure before if angry whispering was a thing people actually did. Turns out, it was, and all Allen had to do to figure that out was to reach the pinnacle of roommate-induced shoe horror in front of a very kind semi-stranger whom he did not want to curse in front of.
     “Hmm?”
     “Sorry Lenalee, it’s nothing. Going in sounds great. Also, I’m sorry in advance for when you see my shoes.”
     “Your shoes?”
     Allen stood up from table, his blushing face half hidden behind one hand. Lenalee shifted her gaze to Allen’s feet. The back to his face. Then slowly back to her feet.
     “Allen,” she began, “are you wearing Crocs with Lightning McQueen’s face on them?”
     “Unfortunately.”
     “You are quite possibly the weirdest person I have ever met.”
     “I feel I should clarify that I’m not wearing these by choice.”
     “I suppose this is what I get for hiring a fake boyfriend on craigslist.”
     “Consider yourself lucky to have ended up with me. There’s a lot of things on that sight worse than cars crocs.”
     “Oh you misunderstand. Those things are frickin amazing. I mean, horrible yes, but amazing.”
     “I think we have different definitions of amazing.” Allen matched Lenalee’s deadpan delivery as best he could, hoping to draw some comedy out of his suffering.
     He was successful, it seemed, and Lenalee started burst into a fit of giggling. The sound was infectious and, for whatever reason, reminded Allen of birds. Her giggling evolved into full on laughter then, and soon she and Allen were both overcome. Neither of them really knew why they were laughing, but something about the situation just seemed to call for it.
     When they finally calmed, Lenalee turned to Allen.
     “I like you,” she said between breaths. “I’m glad that you’re my craigslist crazy.”
     “Hey, I’m not crazy.”
     “You sold yourself as a fake boyfriend on craigslist and showed up to lunch in December in fall clothes and Cars crocs. You’re pretty friggin crazy.”
     “I was given these clothes against my will and desperate for a place to stay over the holidays. You’re the one that was crazy enough to hire me, so where’s your excuse.”
     “Touché my good sir. Now let’s go inside so you don’t freeze. I can tell you my side of the story where it’s warm.”


 

     As he watched her study the café menu, Allen was struck again by how truly gorgeous Lenalee was. It wasn’t so much that he was attracted to her in the, you’re pretty and I wanna kiss you way. Instead, he decided that she was one of those people who was just, objectively attractive. She reminded him a little of a jpop star; she had the right kind of bright, bubbly aura and sweet face. She was the kind of person he hadn’t thought existed in real life until about ten minutes previously.
     “So, I have to ask...”
     “Hmm?” Lenalee’s head bobbed up, her eyes reluctant to leave the customizable mac & cheese menu.
     “You seem so nice and, y’know, attractive. Why are you hiring dates on craigslist instead of just finding one in real life. I feel like it shouldn’t be that hard for you.” Allen cringed at his own words as he spoke. There had to have been a better way to say that.
     Lenalee laughed in response, her cheeks flushing pinkish with embarrassment.
     “You’re too nice to me Allen. And actually, I answered your ad for the same reason you posted it in the first place: total desperation.”
     “What kind of desperation?”
     “The, I need a Christmas date now and nobody I know wants to spend three weeks with my batshit family kind.”
     “Batshit?” Allen was feeling a bit concerned about his upcoming family time.
     Lenalee let out a long sigh.
     “My brother is wildly overprotective, and he always goes nuts whenever I start dating.”
     “Oh.”
     “Yeah. So anyway, there was this guy named Jackson that I’d been dating since, like, the beginning of my freshman year here, and we decided that we’d gotten serious enough for him to come home with me for the holidays and brave my family. I’d never gotten my relationships involved in my home life before because of my brother, so this was kind of a big deal for me. I even got my mom to warn the rest of the family that I might be bringing a guy home, so there was no going back.” Lenalee paused and sighed again.
     “So why are you here with me?”
     “I found out that Jackson was a cheating douche, that’s why.”
     “Oh. That sucks.”
     “I know, right. Here I am heading over to his place to surprise him with the good news about my parents agreeing to have him over, when I walk in on him cheating on me with not just one girl, but two of them.”
     “At the same time?”
     “Yep. At the same time. Turns out he’d been cheating for months, hooking up with every random girl he could get because I didn’t want to screw him.”
     “What the fuck.” Allen couldn’t believe what he was hearing. To break the heart of someone as great as Lenalee seemed over such a shallow thing… it was ridiculous. He had never before felt so much hatred for a complete stranger.
     “I know, right!” Lenalee’s voice was as incredulous as Allen felt. “So of course I was crushed for a few days, but the overwhelming power of my fury helped me get over him pretty quick.”
     “Well that’s good at least.”
     “I guess, yeah. So anyway, once I was a functioning human again, I realized that this whole breakup thing was gonna be a big problem for my Christmas plans. There was no way I was taking Jackson home after everything that happened, but I didn’t wanna just hop into a new relationship a week after getting out of a serious one.”
     “So you turned to craigslist?”
     “Well, it wasn’t my first choice. I tried asking, like, all of my friends if they’d be willing to do it for me, but they’d all heard enough stories about my brother. Nobody wanted to do it.
     “By the time my friend sent me your ad, a week had passed and I was getting pretty desperate. I really do not want to know what my brother would do if he found out what happened with Jackson. I mean, I might never date again. So, I decided to see what would happen with you, and now here I am.”
     “Your friend sent you my ad?”
     “Oh yeah, my friend Rohfa. She spends a lot of time surfing around online. She was the one that found you.”
     “Oh. Well, I guess I should be thanking her for finding me a home for the holidays.”
Lenalee smiled.
     “I’ll tell her you said so.”
     The waitress arrived after that, providing a natural end for the conversation. Once they had both ordered, (gouda mac & cheese for Lenalee, two BLTs and a side salad and chips for Allen) their conversation turned to the more practical side of their arrangement.
     By the time the meal was done, they had agreed on the terms of their agreement as follows: Allen was to pretend to be the boy that had been dating Lenalee since freshman year. They would say they had met at a party hosted by a (made up) mutual friend named Janice. They would have to do some causal cuddling and hand holding along with the occasional cheek kiss, but nothing beyond that. Lenalee was going to pick Allen up in the morning on the 20th, and they’d come back home on the fifteenth. All in all, it seemed like a nice, simple plan that just might actually work.